There’s a great big country between the Statue of Liberty and the Hollywood Sign. And there’s no better way to explore the area than on a Midwest road trip. If you are hitting the road this summer (to or in) the Midwest, here are some cities and top attractions you must check out. We’ll start the trip in Louisville and continue north on I-65 to Indianapolis and Chicago. And for a bonus stop, head northwest to Minneapolis.
Start Your Midwest Road Trip in Louisville
While not “technically” in the Midwest, Louisville is just two hours south of Indianapolis, and a great way to expand your Midwest road trip options. If you are a fan of baseball, check out the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory where you can see and hold bats used by Mickey Mantle, Cal Ripken Jr. and Derek Jeter. Take a few swings in the batting cages, and you can even have your own custom bat made to your specifications.
Bourbon is the drink of choice in Kentucky, and Louisville offers visitors a chance to explore different distilleries through the Urban Bourbon Trail, a collection of bars and restaurants in the city offering a wide variety of bourbons to casual fans and aficionados. And for those looking to visit individual distilleries, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a collection 40 distilleries with tours and tastings across the state. Enjoy dining at the Omni Louisville Hotel, where you can enjoy high-end bourbons and local dishes at four unique outlets.
Food and Family in Indianapolis
Indianapolis is primarily a sports town, and a first class one at that. But no event is more tied to Indianapolis than the Indianapolis 500, the largest single-day sporting event in the world. But don’t worry if you can’t make it for the Indy 500, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum has an incredible collection of race memorabilia, and offers visitors a chance to take a lap around the track.
Just down the street from Omni Severin Hotel, classic restaurants such as St. Elmo Steak House, which opened in 1902, is loved by locals and visitors for their great food and atmosphere. But it’s not just established restaurants that are making waves in the food scene. The Fletcher Place neighborhood has a list of top restaurants including Milktooth, Rook and Bluebeard, which led Condé Nast Traveler to call it, “The most underrated food city in America.”
If you are traveling with kids, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is not to be missed. With nearly 500,000 square feet of space divided into five floors of exhibits, it is the largest children’s museum in the world. And if the kids are interested in dinosaurs, the Dinosphere will make them feel like they traveled back in time to when tyrannosaurs and triceratops roamed the earth.
Skylines and Deep-Dish Pizza in Chicago
Chicago is known for many things — deep-dish pizza, brutally cold winters, Michael Jordan — but once you see Chicago skyline on your Midwest road trip, you’ll be reminded that it is home to some of America’s most iconic architecture too. Begin exploring at the Chicago Architecture Center which offers walking tours in dozens of neighborhoods and guided boat tours on the Chicago River. And if you are an art fan, check out the Art Institute of Chicago, which offers 30 special exhibits annually and is ranked number one on TripAdvisor’s things to do in Chicago.
If you want to get a bird’s-eye view, check out the 360 Chicago Observation Deck at the John Hancock Center. (Ok, technically it’s now called by its address, 875 North Michigan Avenue. But does any Chicagoan call the Sears Tower the Willis Tower? No.) 360 Chicago is located just four blocks north of the Omni Chicago Hotel. Ride the fastest elevators in the Western Hemisphere (clocking in at 20.5 mph), to the 94th floor and enjoy incredible views of the city. For those who aren’t afraid of heights, check out Tilt, where eight panes of glass tilt away from the building and towards Michigan Avenue 1,030 feet below.
You could spend a month in Chicago and not scratch the surface on all the great cuisine. Eater Chicago constantly updates their essential restaurants list, so let them help guide you to classic Chicago restaurants old and new. Think you can only get a classic pastrami sandwich as big as your head at Katz’s in New York? Check out Manny’s and prepare to eat your words. Or, how about fried seafood that was named a James Beard Foundation American Classic and a favorite of Anthony Bourdain? Check out Calumet Fisheries.
The Great Outdoors in Minneapolis/St. Paul
The Twin Cities are located on the banks of the Mississippi River, and home to one of the country’s most beautiful and expansive park systems. A chain of lakes surrounds the area and are connected by pedestrian and bike paths stretching over 50 miles. Minneapolis is ranked one of the most bikeable cities in the U.S., so if you are road tripping with your bike in tow (or want to rent a bike) check out this list of bike trails that offer short and easy paths to longer, more challenging road and off-road cycling trails.
If you’re more of a sports spectator, Minneapolis is home to sports teams in every major league including the NBA’s Timberwolves, MLB’s Twins, WNBA’s Lynx (who have appeared in 11 playoffs over 21 seasons and tied for most championships in the league with 4), the NHL’s Wild and the NFL’s Vikings. This year Omni Hotels will open Omni Viking Lakes Hotel, located just south of Minneapolis in Eagan, MN, home to the Minnesota Vikings headquarters, practice facilities, restaurants and more.
No trip to Minneapolis is complete without a visit to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to take a photo of (or with) the most photographed item in the city, Spoonbridge and Cherry. The sculpture garden is free to the public and open from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. midnight daily.
And finally, if you are a fan of Prince, arguably one of the world’s most famous musicians and native of Minneapolis, check out Paisley Park, his former home and studio which has been converted to a museum celebrating the late artist.
Hopefully these quick guides will help you brainstorm for your next Midwest road trip. And if you aren’t just passing through, we hope you will let Omni offer a place to rest and relax from all the fun you’ll be having on vacation.
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please check destination hours and service offerings prior to your visit.